New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont'a Hightower is one of several players on the team who have already opted out of the 2020 season. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady is not the only key starter the New England Patriots are going to have to replace this upcoming season, as two others have opted out of playing due to the coronavirus.

According to multiple reports, Patriots starting linebacker Dont’a Hightower and right tackle Marcus Cannon have opted out of the 2020 season. They are two of four New England players who have opted out thus far.

Hightower and his girlfriend, Morgan Hart, welcomed their first child earlier this month. Cannon is a cancer survivor who is in remission after beating non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma several years ago.

Because of his medical history, Cannon will likely qualify as a high-risk medical opt-out and receive a $350,000 stipend. Players who opt out for non-medical reasons receive $150,000.

Hightower has been one of the anchors of New England’s defense since they drafted him in the first round back in 2012. He had a key sack and a forced fumble in the Patriots’ historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Cannon started 15 games for the Pats last season.

A total of nine NFL players have now opted out of the 2020 season, including one who had a coronavirus-related death in his family.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.



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MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Can you name every prominent quarterback in the history of the New England Patriots?

While many quarterbacks have thrown passes for the New England Patriots over the years, this quiz only lists the signal callers who led the team in passing yards in the years displayed. 

SCORE:
0/17
TIME:
4:00
1960-1961
Butch Songin
1962-1967
Babe Parilli
1968
Tom Sherman
1969
Mike Taliaferro
1970
Joe Kapp
1971-1974
Jim Plunkett
1975-1983
Steve Grogan
1984-1986
Tony Eason
1987
Steve Grogan
1988
Doug Flutie
1989
Steve Grogan
1990
Marc Wilson
1991-1992
Hugh Millen
1993-2000
Drew Bledsoe
2001-2007
Tom Brady
2008
Matt Cassel
2009-2019
Tom Brady

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